Base building

I have been told if I want to improve I need to build a base that is to run easy (70% MHR) for all my runs for three months.

After that I can start to do some speed training etc. If you have done it can you let me know if it was worth the time put into it?
The other option is to run just my easy days slowly it appears most of us run them too quickly anyway!

Any thoughts and views would be appreciated?


  • I'm doing base training from after GNR till end of year - you still need to do some speed work tho (a short track session will do) - but do most you runs at a easy pace with aim to build BASE endurance

    To complimment this some general strength work is also good
  • I'm six weeks into a (potentially) six months base programme. Results are encouraging so far.

    I would disagree with WW about the need to do any speed work though. I think a good stretching / strength-training regime will prevent any long-term loss of speed.
  • Wildwill, do you increase your weekly distance when you're doing base building, or is it the same as normal with steady runs instead of speedwork?

    I ask because I'm planning a couple of months of base training after the Great Cumbria Run.
  • I've been reading a bit on the subject and its been real interesting. plan to do a lot of this after southend (oct 5th) over the winter months so next year i should be capable of decent times

    Read somewhere once the best form of training is to train for a marathon but without doing the marathon at the end

    What do others think and would more than 3 months base training be more of a hinderance or a help.

  • YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!!!

    At last the message that quick fix speedwotk is not the answer is getting out! Hurrah!

    All runs nice'n'easy keeping HR low, BUT the BETTER runners can do SOME alactic speedwork concentrating on RELAXED FORM. Alactic = too short for lactate to form. Some 100m reps with VERY long (several minutes) rest intervals keeping good form will keep the body ready for teh faster work later on.
  • How low for the HR?

    Are ALL runs at the same HR or do they vary? Been reading about this but need some direct answers.
  • I have been keeping my HR around 130-140 for most of my runs training for my marathon and recently got a PB in a recent Half Marathon, I found I was able to keep a fairly fast pace for longer in the race and was less tired at the end and have recovered much quicker.
  • Isn't it just the case that the physiological benefits of base training last longer than the benefits of faster paced training. Therefore you do your base first and that lasts whilst you concentrate on your speed ? I'm sort of guessing here based on what I've read.

    I'd still be wary about doing a long period of purely slow running - based simply on the effects it had on people I knew - maybe a small sample but they didn't get faster except over ultra distances. However I think the idea of doing some fast running without turning it into a knackering interval session may be enough for maintenance. Again just an educated guess.
  • TT - my speed work fits into the fast but easy cattagory

    Ard - I up the duration of my long run to 3hrs (i do 3hrs 1wk 2hrs the next alternating)

    BR - what questions do you want answering
  • The purpose of base training is to build and expand an athletes aerobic base. Over-distance and endurance runs form the bulk of the training in creating this base. Building this base enables the cardio system and lungs to be able to cope with much higher intensity training that will follow. During this stage you normally work on muscular development, both sport and non sport specific, with the aim of improving the power to weigh ratio. The final element as I said is fast but easy work (short speed/track sessions) but only a small percentage of the work.

    60-70% of the training hours should be aimed at the slow stuff with the aim of improving the body’s oxygen transport system (50-60%whr) – Endurance : Easy Cruising pace – Over Distance : long easy runs

    10-20% of time on strength for the reason stated above

    The reminder speed sessions to ensure you don’t loose the speed you have built in the past – emphasis would normally be short intervals working on body speed, tempo speed and kicks

    I can recomend the book "SERIOUS Training for endurance athletes" BY Rob Sleamaker and Ray Browning
  • we used to build bases in the park as kids... use tarpaulin, robe, wood, old tyres - any stuff like that

    but watch out for that big rotweiller the old bloke walks down by the swings - its a bu66er
  • So how long should a newbie do base training don't know which way to go now.

    Have run before but am returning for the zillionth time
  • I've posted this before on another thread but worth a read if you've the time:

    Should answer a lot of the questions.

    Happy reading!
  • Pammie - Base training normally last 12-16 weeks in 4 week cycles with every 4th week as an easy week to prevent over training - But as TwoTons says it can be 6 month especialy when new to OR returning to runing
  • Have elected to follow this basebuilding route after some downtime this summer due to achilles. Partly I'd felt I'd trained up too hard and fast on lengthening runs/speedwork before so that the CV system stretches beyond the capability of joints and tendons.

    Currently am doing 3 x 5+milers at 65-70%WHR, a 20mn speed session at club night and running through a weekend race by taking the first 1/3 easy and then running the second 2/3rd as a tempo type run. I intend to staedily increase the 5+ milers to 7 or so over the next month and then maybe to 9.

    What I'd be interested in knowing is how much slowr do people find they go when base building than their current racing pace. I guess I could race a 10k now at around 7:20-7:30min mile but my base-building runs are at 9:30min/mile pace about - 80% of race speed.
  • I do find running (if you can call it that)at 70%WHR embarrassingly slow! I often grind to a halt at the first sign of a hill!
  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭
    I am seriously considering buying a heart rate monitor after my half marathon in three weeks' time and going back to basics.

    Although I do feel my running has improved in the past 6 months (I've only been running for about 17 months in total) I don't feel that the improvements have been as dramatic as I'd hoped or expected.

    I think this is because I do all my runs at too fast a pace. The net result is that I have a certain amount of speed (which I'd like to improve on) but not nearly as much stamina as I'd like. In training runs I often find myself having to take a break because I've started out too hard. I've read a bit about base building but I find it almost impossible to slow down - my body's used to the pace I run at and changing it is proving to be very difficult. I often set out with the intention of doing an 'easy' or 'recovery' run but end up logging it as a tempo run because the pace was too quick.

    I thought a heart rate monitor might help me with pacing, but am a bit put off by reports I've read about them chafing round the chest strap.

    Do others find a HRM is best for learning to pace yourself?
  • Minkin - I use a HRM with no probs - it help keep the pace down

    TSR - as base training progresses you'll finfd your speed will increase for the same HR - as you become more aerobicly fit and you oxgen transport system inproves
  • Am currently following a programme similar to Hadd's approach as posted previously although mileage is less as am not aiming for a marathon. As an idea:

    Resting HR = 55
    Max HR = 200
    10K race pace = 6.10

    Currently doing 5 runs per week:

    1. Long run (building to 16 miles) at 150HR
    2&3. 2 x medium runs (building to 10 miles each) at 160HR & 150-155HR
    4&5. 2 x shorter runs (5 miles each) at HR<145

    Current avaerage pace at these HRs as follows:

    145: 9.00
    150: 8.40
    155: 8.20
    160: 8.00

    Have been following this programme for about 3 weeks so far and have already seen a reduction in pace of around 20 seconds per mile at each HR. When pace at each HR starts to level off I will up my target HRs at each level by 5-10bpm. In the New Year plan to re-introduce the speedwork as well.

    Am convinced this type of training will pay off with improved race times come next Spring/Summer but guess I will have to just to wait and see!

  • Thank you guys

    Have seen link to hadd and it seems a lot of reading so i have printed it off to read at leisure.
  • WildWill cheers.

    I just hate the very slow running!
  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭
    I have just read the link you posted, Davros, and although long it does make fascinating reading. I think I'm going to buy a heart rate monitor and give this a go once my upcoming half marathon is out the way. It seems a very thorough (albeit slow) method of training, and I think Hadd is probably correcting in thinking that most runners don't run 'easy' miles as easy as they should. It's hard to get your head around the fact that running slower will ultimately mean you can run faster for longer, but I think he explains the 'science bit' pretty well - I'm convinced enough to give it a go and it seems to be working already for you.
  • Must admit i'm not a Hadd fan
  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭
    WW - Why not?
  • Its to much of a try and fix it all at once aproach and does not fit in with the periodisation aproach i prefer

    I'm not dissing it - training is all about finding an aproach that works for you and going for it


    After a week or so off after GNR I'll be donig 4 months base training in the manner i've discribed above with overdistance and endurance training controled by HR and time on my feet (forget about pace and distance)

    Then Ill enter build where the overdistance will be cut back and emphasis will switch to improve endurance (marathon for me) during the latter sage of this i'll do a spring marathon

    PEEk for me will be an Ironman specific programme
  • I agree WW - I am not planning on doing the Hadd approach at the expense of everything else for the next however many years. I thought it was a good approach for base building which I plan to follow for 6 months before introducing more specific speed work (whilst following the principles of Hadd to maintain the endurance base) for spring half marathons/10 milers and summer 10K's.

    If all goes well I will revert back to Hadd next Autumn/Winter and add to the endurance base I will have laid this year.

    I believe it is a cumulative process over a number of years so next year's base phase should take less time to reach the same level as this year and, all being well, the paces will be faster than this year for the same HR.

    That's the theory anyway - as you say, it's all about experimenting and finding what approach works best for you.

    Good luck with the Ironman (you must be mad!!)
  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭
    This is all interesting stuff. I had never really thought about approaching training in phases in this way. As a relatively new runner my approach has been pretty ad-hoc - 4 runs a week, one of them gradually increasing in length to target a half-marathon, and the others 4-5 miles (one tempo). I haven't done any specific hill training as all my runs necessarily follow a hilly route because of where I live. I also haven't really focused on speedwork of the intervals/fartlek type.

    It occurred to me at the Nike 10K when I was forced to run the first 2K at a pace well below what I usually run at because of the sheer volume of people that I was struggling to keep going even though I was a lot slower than usual. Having read the Hadd article, this kind of makes sense now. By doing pretty much all my runs at what amounts to tempo pace (not by design; I just can't seem to run slower) I'm increasing the mitochondria in my fast-twitch muscle fibres but the slow-twitch fibres are not being developed at all - consequently when I run at a pace which forces me to use these I crash and burn. Also explains why my endurance doesn't match my speed.

    Having read Hadd and this thread, the idea of training phases makes a lot of sense and seems to me a good way forward for my training. I really need to work on building base fitness - it's like building a house without any foundations: sooner or later it's going to fall down. Seems what I've been doing is trying to improve the quality of my running without having the foundations in place to allow this to happen.
  • Exactly the same sort of conclusions I came to Minkin. Think I made the mistake of doing a weekly long run, tempo run, some intervals etc without really understanding why I was doing them. Really, it was because that's what websites and books said to do! Don't get me wrong, my times certainly improved doing this but I also suffered from a string of minor injuries that resulted in a couple of weeks lay off each time.

    Now realise I never really understood why I was doing those sessions when I was. As my 10m & 1/2m paces were way off those predicted by my 10k pace I thought it worth trying this approach this year. I have also read (or part read) The Lore of Running by Noakes and as a result of all of this I now feel that I understand why certain sessions are done and, more importantly, how I can use them to improve my own running.

    Must stop now as I think I am in danger of becoming a running bore!
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